Narconon® staff regularly encounter teenage enrollees whose lives have gone awry due to addiction. Enrollments include a steady flow of young people who have fallen into unhealthy patterns of using and abusing drugs and alcohol according to Bobby Wiggins, director of Drug Prevention at Narconon International.
When looking for causes, a significant contributor to increased addiction amongst adolescents turns out to be parents who are not paying enough attention. “Assuming that sons and daughters are not at risk of succumbing to the drug culture when they are actively engaged in social media is not a safe assumption,” says Wiggins.
The latest CASA (National Center on Addiction and Drug Abuse) at Columbia University study concludes that parents bear the burden of “preventing drug and alcohol abuse among their children and teens” – including staying on top of social media activity of their teen age children.
The 16th annual National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse: Teens and Parents reports on yet another source of peer pressure that pushes young people toward drug and alcohol use. Findings state, “American teenagers who spend time on social networking sites are more likely to smoke, drink and use drugs. Compared to teens that spend no time on social networking sites in a typical day, those who do are five times more likely to use tobacco; three times more likely to use alcohol; and twice as likely to use marijuana.”
The CASA report further reveals, “Seventy percent of teens report spending time on social networking sites in a typical day compared to 30 percent of teens who say they do not.” The study of 12 to 17 year olds shows that by far the largest majority are engaging in a freewheeling exchange of opinions, ideas and trends. “40 percent of all teens surveyed have seen pictures on social networking sites of their peers “getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs.” Half of teens who have seen these images on social networking sites first saw such pictures when they were 13 years of age or younger; more than 90 percent first saw such pictures when they were 15 or younger.
The CASA survey underscores the importance for any parents or caregivers of children to not only be alert to what is transpiring on the computer screen or hand held devices, but also that they must be on the same page about the messages they send to teens. One of the findings states: “Teens whose parents don’t agree completely with each other on what to say to their teen about drug use are more than three times likelier to use marijuana, and three-and-a-half times likelier to expect to try drugs in the future, than teens whose parents agree completely on what to say about drug use. Teens whose parents do not agree completely with each other on what to say to their teen about drinking alcohol are twice as likely to use alcohol as teens whose parents agree completely on what to say about drinking.”
“The loss to the nation’s bright, young people who get caught up in drugs is one of the biggest tragedies we allow”, says Wiggins. “In our centers, we see that these same teens caught up in adolescent use of marijuana and other drugs once they complete the Narconon Drug Rehab Program exhibit qualities of leadership and high creativity any parent would be proud of. We see that parental pride when their sons or daughters graduate.”
Adolescent drug abuse is a growing problem. It can be handled.
For more information on the Narconon programs, please visit http://www.narconon.org/.